By the time you get to the PCB assembly phase, you must have spent a lot of resources and time on your printed circuit boards. This phase of the project is a crucial one, and you want to ensure that you do it right. If you are outsourcing the PCB assembly process, it is important to choose a suitable company. The best way to order a PCB assembly is to know the right company that can meet your requirements.
PCB assembly: How is this process performed?
For you to know how to order PCB assembly, you should know how the process is performed. You should know how this specifically helps your PCB product/project.
PCB assembly is the phase in the manufacturing process whereby the bare printed circuit board is equipped with the specified electronic components. These components are essential to make the printed circuit board fully functional.
With these components embedded into your PCB, it becomes a circuit and makes the board function. The process of PCB assembly can be executed in two ways. They are:
While these two methods are commonly used as separate solutions, some PCBs are manufactured with a combination of both methods.
How to order PCB assembly: The process to follow
- Create and follow a workable timeline: Before you order a PCB assembly, you want to follow a practical timeline. It is important to spend enough time considering different potential PCB manufacturers and what they offer. You want your PCB assembly process to be smooth and fast to enable you to get your products to customers. You should get a full scope of what each company offer before you make a decision. More importantly, try to look for a PCB assembly company that can work according to your timeframe.
- Consider experience: Another important step in ordering PCB assembly is to think about the experience of the PCB assembly company. Their level of experience should match the requirements of your PCB assembly project. Critical factors to check out with each company are:
- Do they have the necessary equipment for through-hole manufacturing or surface-mount technology or both?
- What is their minimum PCB assembly order size?
- What types of electronic components and PCBs do they deal with?
- Other possible services on offer.
- The industries and companies that they have partnered with.
- Evaluate quality: When ordering your PCB assembly, you should check the quality policies of the company. It can be hard to access quality without any trial run. You could try to order a small run or a prototype to verify the product’s quality. However, you may also consider validating quality by accessing some factors like:
- Equipment: One good indicator that a PCB assembly produces quality products is its equipment. State-of-the-art machinery is a good sign that they would probably produce quality boards.
- Certifications: Certifications are used to indicate that the quality management system of a PCB assembly company has been validated and verified by a third-party quality assurance organization.
- Feedback from clients: Another good way to determine the quality of a PCB assembly company is to get feedback from their past clients.
- Explore options for testing: Testing should be an essential part of a PCB assembly company. It is important to conduct quality tests as potential board failures can cost you money and time apart from damaging your reputation. It is important to consider companies with comprehensive quality control policies and definitive testing procedures. At this point, they should conduct detailed visual inspections. Other additional testing procedures that may be considered are:
- Verification of PCB circuits
- Detailed checking of all the components in the PCB circuit
- Automated optical inspections.
- Consider customer support: When ordering PCB assembly, you should demand a responsive customer support service. This is up there with product quality and technical capabilities. It is important to team up with a PCB assembly company that gets you the best PCB assembly service, fixes problems instantly, and answers all questions that you have. Sometimes, getting the right feedback from a customer support representative gives you a better idea of the quality procedures of the PCB assembly company. Getting fast answers and solutions from an efficient customer support team can help you save a lot of money and time.
- Compare costs: In the process of ordering your PCB assembly, it is important to consider the necessary cost involved. You want to maximise value and reduce the price to give your customers quality products. A PCB assembly order will usually vary in terms of costs based on various factors like:
- Order size: Bigger orders may attract higher costs. However, there may be discounts for bulk orders.
- Services needed: Costs will be affected by what services you request. The surface-mount technology and through-hole manufacturing process come at varying costs. Costs can also be increased with special requests line extra testing, components procurement, and so on.
- Labour costs: An advanced and involved PCB assembly project will likely attract a higher labor cost.
- Shipping costs: Shipping costs are also involved. This depends on the distance of the PCB assembly company from you, the order size, and the shipping option from the PCB assembly company.
- Watch out for potential red flags: An important part of ordering PCB assembly is knowing that not all assemblers can handle your order requirements. It is essential to keep an eye out for potential red flags to avoid ending up with the wrong PCB assembly company. Potential red flags include:
- Unresponsiveness: If you are unable to communicate properly with the assembler, then they are not the right choice for you. A good PCB assembly company should be able to provide a prompt response when it is needed. They should also be able to provide you with regular updates throughout the PCB assembly process.
- Limited flexibility: A great PCB assembly company should be flexible enough to cater to your unique needs. If their requirements or policies are strict or they make your PCB assembly process look challenging to accomplish, then they are not suitable to handle your project.
- Extended timelines: You should be able to look for a PCB assembly company with a quick turnaround. Specific board assembly processes will need you to provide quick results. This is where an accelerated assembly process becomes highly essential.